TN (Trade NAFTA – North American Free Trade Agreement)
TN nonimmigrant classification permits qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to seek temporary entry into the United States to engage in specific professions in accordance with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), including activities related to research in the sciences. TN status requires a sponsoring employer for a specific period of time. To obtain TN status, see guidance here:
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) guidance
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) guidance
Department of State (DOS) guidance
Remember: DIS must first receive a
request package from the NIH Institute/Center (IC) where you will work before we can assist with obtaining TN status.
All FTE (Full-Time Equivalent) designations and most Non-FTE designations can be supported by TN status.
TNs are eligible for an initial period of up to three (3) years with extensions available up to three (3) years at a time. At present, there is no limit on the number of extensions that can be requested. The TN status begins when the foreign national scientist acquires TN status within the United States.
Family members of TNs are eligible for TD (Trade Dependent) status. Family members are defined as your spouse and/or unmarried children under age 21. Dependents cannot be employed in the United States. Dependents may attend school in the United States on a full-time basis; such attendance is considered incidental to their purpose for being in the country, which is to accompany the TN.
Entry into United States
Documentation needed at U.S. Port of Entry include:
- A Canadian or Mexican passport
- Mexican citizens require a TN visa stamp and Mexican dependents require a TD visa stamp. Visit the Department of State’s website to find out how to obtain a visa:
- Canadian citizens do not require a visa but they are required to pay a fee at U.S. Port of Entry.
- A letter from the Division of International Services (DIS) that identifies the professional field and describes duties to be performed on a daily basis, arrangements for remuneration, anticipated length of stay, educational requirements for position, and licensure evidence, if necessary.
- Copies of professional degrees and professional evaluation
Upon entry, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer places a port of entry stamp in the passport to indicate the status duration and an I-94 arrival/departure record is created. TN and TD status holders should inspect their port of entry stamp and
I-94 record to confirm that the end date or “admit until date” matches the end date of the employer letter issued by DIS. If the end dates do not match, please e-mail
DIS@mail.nih.gov as soon as possible.
To extend a fellowship/assignment/appointment while in TN status, the NIH Institute/Center (IC) must send DIS a
request package. After the request package is received, an Immigration Specialist contacts the foreign national to discuss extension options. DIS cannot begin the extension process until a request package is received from the IC.